Attorney General William Barr announced the beginning of a new program called Project Guardian, which is designed to prevent gun violence and enforce federal firearm laws.
“Gun crime remains a pervasive problem in too many communities across America. Today, the Department of Justice is redoubling its commitment to tackling this issue through the launch of Project Guardian,” Barr said while in Memphis Wednesday.
The attorney general added this program will enable the federal government, state and local law enforcement to “better target offenders who use guns in crimes and those who try to buy guns illegally.”
Barr said he came to Memphis to announce this new initiative because Memphis’s crime and murder rater are higher than the national averages.
“Violent crime is half of what it was in 1992, but unfortunately there are some places where crime has remained stubborn and stayed high,” he said. “Memphis is one of those cities that has not benefited as much as it should from that general reduction in crime.”
Project Guardian is based on five principles: coordinated prosecution; enforcing the background check system; improved information sharing; coordinated response to mental health denials; and crime gun intelligence coordination.
“Federal prosecutors and law enforcement will coordinate with state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors to consider potential federal prosecution for new cases involving a defendant who: a) was arrested in possession of a firearm; b) is believed to have used a firearm in committing a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime prosecutable in federal court; or c) is suspected of actively committing violent crime(s) in the community on behalf of a criminal organization.”
Enforcing the Background Check System:
“United States Attorneys, in consultation with the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in their district, will create new, or review existing, guidelines for intake and prosecution of federal cases involving false statements (including lie-and-try, lie-and-buy, and straw purchasers) made during the acquisition or attempted acquisition of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees.”
Particular emphasis will be placed on people who commit domestic violence crimes, according to the Department of Justice press release.
Improved Information Sharing:
“On a regular basis, and as often as practicable given current technical limitations, ATF will provide to state law enforcement fusion centers a report listing individuals for whom the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has issued denials, including the basis for the denial, so that state and local law enforcement can take appropriate steps under their laws.”
Coordinated Response to Mental Health Denials:
“Each United States Attorney will ensure that whenever there is federal case information regarding individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm under the mental health prohibition, such information continues to be entered timely and accurately into the United States Attorneys’ Offices’ case-management system for prompt submission to NICS.”
Crime Gun Intelligence Coordination:
“Federal, state, local, and tribal prosecutors and law enforcement will work together to ensure effective use of the ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGICs), and all related resources, to maximize the use of modern intelligence tools and technology. These tools can greatly enhance the speed and effectiveness in identifying trigger-pullers and finding their guns, but the success depends in large part on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners sharing ballistic evidence and firearm recovery data with the ATF.”
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